Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant

All year, the United Kingdom has been buzzing about the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.  
I blogged about it a few months ago and the wonderful event has finally arrived! Yay!

It's a celebration like you've never seen.  
Red, white and blue is splashed over everything and bunting has been strung across this nation.
It is truly a sight to behold!  

 Everyone got a four day weekend to celebrate!

As a proud American living in London and the wife of a Brit,
I am so honored to be a part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations 
and to experience first-hand the love that the people have for their Queen.

She is an amazing woman who has devoted her life to the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.  She is a very beloved Queen.

Via (Reuters)
"I declare before you all that my whole life,whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service"

Queen Elizabeth II

I was thrilled to celebrate the life and service of such a remarkable woman.

 I've been looking forward to the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant since I read about it last year.  
One thousand vessels floating down the Thames river 
along with the Royal Barge carrying the Queen and the other Royals. 

Sugar Bear has been here for two weeks and we've been running around like crazy.   So, we decided earlier last week that because of the weather and the crowds, we would just watch from the comfort of our couch.  We stocked up on munchies and Pimms to fortify our celebration and polished our tiaras.  

But the morning of the Diamond Jubilee Pageant,
I woke up to all of the excitement on the TV and twitter and I just couldn't stay home.
This was a once in a lifetime event and I was not going to miss it.
TE decided to join me and Sugar Bear decided to watch from the comfort of the flat.  

I put on my cute little US/UK flag scarf, a raincoat and baseball cap
and we headed out to see what we could see.

Was it crowded?  Yep!         Was it raining? Yep!  

Was it spectacular? ABSOLUTELY!!!

I'm so glad we decided to join the one million other spectators lining the seven mile route.  
It was crazy, stressful, frustrating and wonderful!

We took a tube to Pimlico Station and then walked down to the river.  
People have been camping out for the best spots and the crowd was already huge, 
so we had trouble finding the ideal viewing spot.  
We settled ourselves with a limited view of the river over a 5 foot wall and a few rows back.
We were also close to one of the big screen TV's so we wouldn't miss out on everything.  

Everyone was in great spirits and showing lots of red, white & blue.  There were periodic outbreaks of song and cheers of "God Save the Queen!"

 After a long 3 hour wait, the boats came into view!!!

There was a lot of wrestling for space
 and crowd etiquette was a bit lost in the excitement of getting a good view.  
By the time the boats came into view, the lady behind me 
had somehow managed to not only get herself and her son in front of me,
but she was smart enough to bring a step stool!

So my view of the flotilla was in little spurts of popping up onto my tippy toes and straining to get a look.
TE is 6'4", so he had a little bit better luck and he was in charge of the photos for this one. 

The first boat was carrying the Jubilee Bells that chimed along the route.  
All of the church bells along the way responded in kind.
You can hear them here.  Lovely, aren't they?

Next came the Gloriana, a rowbarge especially commissioned for the Diamond Jubilee. 

All of the boats that came next were man-powered.  There were hundreds of them.  

Look, Momma!!!!  The Red Hat Ladies had a boat!!!! 
(I don't think that's what they really were, but I got a kick out of the red hats & purple shirts.)

 The Vikings are coming!

The people on the boats were so honored to participate and looked to be having fun.  

All of the Commonwealth Nations participated.


These boats carried all of the flags of the Commonwealth.  There were several rows of them.

Excitement was building as we knew the Queen was getting closer.  
This is the boat that was used for her to board the Royal Barge.  

And there is Princess Anne!

More dignitaries and VIP's... and then someone yells "There she is!!"  
The Royal Barge is in sight!!!
Everyone starts yelling, waving their flags, blowing horns and everyone surges forward to see!!

I was straining desperately to get a view but I just couldn't!
The boat was passing by and everyone was so excited.  But I couldn't see!!! 
I was jumping up trying to see and starting to panic that I would miss my first Royal sighting!

At one point, I actually reached forward to push a kid's jacket out of the way so I could see.  
Another lady in front of me standing on a stool, saw my hand and looked back.
She must have seen the desperation on my face.  I'm sure I looked a sight!
She said "Can you see?"  
I think my chin actually quivered as I responded "I can't see anything!"

"Here! Quick!!" and somehow she managed to hop down and help me up onto the stool.
I grabbed on to the back of someones coat and put my hand on her shoulder
and got up onto that stool just as the Royal Barge was going past!

I spotted a white hat and squeeked "I see her!!!!"   
I stuck my hand up in the air to wave, let out a Texas whoop,
hopped down off the stool and burst into tears!

Hot mess.

The poor lady must have thought I was losing it.
I thanked her and she told me I could stay up there for a bit.
But, I think I'd had enough.  The adrenaline, excitement and frustration all had taken it's toll.

Time for a Gin & Tonic in a nice, comfy pub. 
Then TE took pity on his excitable American wife and got us a taxi home.
(No way I was getting on a Tube with that crowd.) 

We watched the rest of the pageant from the couch.

When we got home and reviewed the photos, I realized the white hat I saw was actually Camilla. 

As you can see in the bottom right in picture above, 
the Queen had actually popped down into the boat to collect her wrap just as they came into our view.

But, I'm in complete denial.  I saw the Queen.  I don't really care about any evidence to the contrary.
(Don't burst my bubble.)

Oh!  And check out William, Harry & Kate!!  In this pic, Kate is searching the crowd for me. 

"Wills, do you think Selena will make it?"

"Oh, Wait!  I think I see her!  Is that Selena behind that 5 ft. wall over there?"

 "It is her.  I'm so glad she made it!  Hi, Selena!  
Why is she crying and pushing that little boy?"

Celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee with my Englishman. 
A once in a lifetime event that I will never forget.  


P.S. This is my first blog in two weeks and I've missed you guys!!  But, Sugar Bear was here and we have been filling every minute with fun and memories.  I'm sorting through the 2,500 plus photos and have a ton of blogs posts to write.  Fair warning.  I also have another Diamond Jubilee post. Thanks for reading!

*All photos taken by me or TE unless linked otherwise.


  1. Really great commentary! The crowds were really overwhelming, weren't they? Last year I didn't go in for the royal wedding, which I've been kicking myself for. That's why we decided to brave the crowds this time. Unforgettable memories! Glad I was with you there, girlfriend :)

  2. It's wonderful that you participated in the festivities! And I know that feeling, the excitement and anticipation just peak, don't they. I think many joyous tears were shed over the weekend, in honor of thhe Queen. A wonderful post, thanks for taking us there!

  3. This was a great post- I felt like I was there with you (and was happy to use you as a proxy, since fighting the crowds in York for Maundy Thursday was enough for me! Thanks for sharing, and for braving the weather/crowds! I'll let you in on a secret we were told- the best place to see the Queen is at the Braemar Royal Gathering. Not only is it a Highland Gathering (an experience in itself!) but she attends every year, and the people, while totally respectful and cheerful to have her, see her as "their" queen, so it's not all the hoopla and crowds. She was driven right up to her cabana thing and stayed there during the afternoon, but we were just across a field from her, and saw her drive right in front of us twice. It was a day to remember, both for seeing QEII and for the Gathering itself! You should definitely check it out!
    I can't wait to read more about London during the Jubilee- yay!!

  4. omg! his pictures are so wonderful! How exciting. That woman who let you see is a saint. I'd have bought her a round or something!

  5. "It is her. I'm so glad she made it! Hi, Selena!
    Why is she crying and pushing that little boy?"

    Hilarious!! And I can see why the crowd and the excitement took a bit of a toll on you -- what a scene. Glad you got your cab ride home.

  6. Selena, I'm late arriving, but I hung on each and every word of your personal account. Wow! I'm so happy for you that you have the experience of living in London during such an amazing event in history. I too am a Texan, but my grandfather was English born and grew up in Yorkshire. Thank you for sharing your photos with those of us who couldn't be there first hand. I had a mini celebration here at home. The pot of tea is still hot, so hope you'll stop by for cake and a cupa at my Jubilee Tea. ~ Sarah
    PS Where did you find your fabulous UK - US scarf? It's the best!

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